‘Moments to Movements’

Students of Color Conference, Through the Eyes of Your Peers

After our last check-in session with the school group. Pumping each other up for the last moments at Students Of Color Conference.

After our last check-in session with the school group. Pumping each other up for the last moments at Students Of Color Conference.

Diana Pinon

Diana Pinon

After our last check-in session with the school group. Pumping each other up for the last moments at Students Of Color Conference.

Monica Aime Aguilera, Staff Writer

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Coming back from the Students Of Color Conference (SOCC) was a life changing experience for many of us. Out of the whole school, 37 students and eight advisors went. As Ruth Silverthorne said, the ones who went from each school are the “top 10 percent of the top 10 percent of the people in [our] college.”


The SOCC is an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. For those who don’t know, this is an annual conference that takes place in Yakima. It’s a three day conference and this year 37 students and eight advisors had the privilege of attending.

From a school that has about 20 thousand students to be one of the 45 attendees was a privilege as both a student and advisor. This conference is only for community college students in Washington State which makes it a unique opportunity to connect with other college students and faculty.

The conference consisted of three keynote speakers and six sessions. There were over 70 different workshops that were put into the following categories for students to attend during each session; identity group, racial/ethnical/cultural, awareness of others, skills development, social justice/social activism, and personal development.

Student Experiences and Feedback

On the Thursday following our return from the students of color conference all the students and advisors that attended the conference gathered. Jerod Grant, director of Diversity and Equity Center at EvCC and member of SOCC planning committee, asked the group to share how they each felt since returning to Everett.

Answers ranged from feeling empowered and motivated to feeling aware and more understanding of the different cultures that surrounded them. Students overall felt more confident and comfortable.
Susi Larson, a student that attended SOCC said that she felt like “stepping up more” and “using the voice” to speak up and create more awareness. She also felt a “warm, fuzzy feeling, like, ‘oh we’re connected.’” Carlos Sierra, another student that attended the conference said, “I feel more comfortable and more accepted… it feels good, it feels like family.” Coming back from a three day conference in which seeing everyone all day every day created a sense of family and many students shared that feeling.

Part of what created the experience was as Carlos Chavez said, “everyone was comfortable around each other. Everyone left their differences aside and were just one big family, treating each other with such respect.”

Going to the conference there was a set of mentality that was expected of us, these weren’t just rules to follow, they were ways to enjoy the conference to its fullest potential and one of the many important expectations was to come with an open mind and being respectful. This is because the workshops touched sensitive subjects that potentially got emotional and personal but were
very vital to the identity and awareness workshops.

This conference was very helpful in getting in touch with how each individual identifies themselves as. Kalliyan Ross, another student attendee felt a stronger connection to her Cambodian roots when she met other Cambodian students. “I don’t know much about my culture as I probably should.” She also expressed the importance in writing “our own history or else someone else will write it for us,” she, as many others, believes that we should be writing our histories ourselves to minimize inaccuracies and misconceptions of our cultures today.

What’s Next?

During the group, post-SOCC meeting Grant asked us “What do you want to change on campus?”

The group came to the conclusion that they all want to be part of the movement to make EvCC more diverse friendly and to bring that bond that we had at SOCC to our campus. We want to share not our personal experiences but the experience of being in a space in which everywhere you look there is a welcoming face that makes each and every one of us feel that we are at home. The attendees of SOCC would like to see include more faculty involvement and student involvement.

The SOCC group from 2013 came back and created an annual conference inspired by SOCC called RISE which stands for “Resilient Intellectuals Seeking Equity.” This is a conference that is by the students for the students. EvCC hosts this conference, but it is also open to other students as long as they go to a college or university. The conference takes place in the fall and this upcoming fall will be the third annual conference that this year’s SOCC group will plan and present a variety of topics that they learned about in Yakima.

The movement for change doesn’t end with just RISE. Some students brought up the idea of starting up a leadership camp for elementary and middle school kids in hopes of reaching out to kids as they are developing their identities and beliefs.

Also the 2015 SOCC group would like to bring more cultural awareness courses. Our campus already offers “diversity” courses but they don’t specifically focus on culture and ethnicities today. As of today we are offering a Chicano studies class but it’s only offered online and during the summer.

As Adja Fame, an advisor that accompanied the students, said, “I’m excited and proud of how far we’ve come along.” These are just a few of the ideas up in the air right now. There’s no doubt that this year’s SOCC group will kick into high gear next year starting with the RISE conference and create that movement.

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The student news site of Everett Community College in Everett, Washington
‘Moments to Movements’